What Tire to Use on an Indoor Bike Trainer?

When I started with my indoor training, one of the first things I wondered was what type of tyre do you need for your indoor bike trainer. Here is what I found out and what I use now.

Do regular road bike tyres work on indoor bike trainers? Regular cycling tyre will work fine on an indoor bike roller but anything with tread can start to get noisy and add extra wear. If you are riding more than four to five hours a week, a trainer specific tire or an old road tyre would work best to reduce noise, give more reliable data and and stop your bike slipping under heavy load.

While you do not get the same wear on an trainer as riding on the road, they do heat up under heavy riding, and will add extra wear to an expensive road tire.

This applies to the back tyre especially, so here is what I like to do once the weather starts to force me indoors more.

Are all bike trainers equal when it comes to tires?

Now before I go on, it is important to remember that an indoor roller trainer is different to a turbo trainer or a smart indoor trainer.

A roller trainer you place your regular bike on the rollers, balance, and ride. There is no attaching the bike to the trainer, no fancy smart apps or other things to worry about.

It makes getting started easier, as well as making the tire choice an easier one as well. Rollers will not wear a tire as much as other trainers do, but the advice still applies to rollers as well.

In fact, if you have a direct drive trainer, where you take the back wheel off completely, then you can skip this altogether, but I am assuming this is not the case if you are here reading.

Benefits of an indoor trainer tire

While a specific trainer tire is not a necessity, using a trainer specific tyre provides some benefits your regular tire does not.

In short, a dedicated bike trainer tire will:

  • Last at least two to four times longer than using your road bike tire.
  • Reduce trainer session noise, great for apartments, or when riding in the middle of the house
  • Increase the reliability of your smart trainer data
  • Avoid slipping, especially when out of the saddle or sprinting

The benefits sound great, but how much is this all going to cost?

Don’t worry, there is no need to spend a fortune on a trainer tyre. After all, you are not experiencing different road conditions, so even a worn out regular tyre can work (more on that later).

Here are some options for indoor trainer tire, from the brand new, to something you may have lying around in your garage:

Tacx Trainer Tire

If you are looking for something built for a trainer, Tacx make a trainer specific tire. What’s it called? The Tacx Trainer Tire.

Super creative.

Tacx Trainer Tire

It’s made of a durable rubber compound to deal with the extra heat generated in a trainer and with a minimal tread pattern, it will reduce trainer noise.

In testing, by far the biggest benefit of a tire like this is the grip ot provides. You can’t beat the gripper of a rubber compound when you are up out of the saddle in a full sprint.

For noise and heat, they do the job, though the difference wasn’t as big as I expected.

Definitely don’t take this outdoors though, it will not be a pleasant experience. In fact, it is downright dangerous.

Continental Hometrainer Folding Tire

These can be a little pricier, but I have friends who swear by these.

Continental Hometrainer Folding Tire

Made specifically for home trainers, they are made from a cold compound rubber with mimimal tread to ensure a quiet ride.

One of the more durable tires in the indoor folding tire range, these will grip your trainer harder than a scared teenager in a horror movie.

These have been reported to be quieter than some of the other indoor trainer tires.

Oh, don’t be put off by the smell of these when you first ride with them on. This fades away quickly after you initially get them up to speed and generate a little heat.

Just like the Tacx tire, remember these are for indoor use only.

Your Old Road Tire

Don’t want to spend money on a trainer specific tire? The easiest solution is to keep an old road tire handy and use that as your indoor trainer tire.

The main cause of noise on a trainer is the tread of the tire. Using an old tire means much of that tread has is worn off and so you will get much of the noise saving benefits as an indoor trainer tire.

The only downside? You won’t get that extra grip a rubber tire will provide, and being an old tire, it naturally won’t last as long.

Still, you can’t beat free, so for those on a budget, it will do the job.

Make sure before using an old road tire you give it a good clean to get rid of any dust and grime. The main cause of slipping on a trainer is dirt left over from riding outdoors.

It will also help you extend the life of your trainer as well.

So should I get an indoor trainer tire or not?

If you are riding on your trainer once a week and don’t want to be switching tires in and out, clean off your road tire and go with that.

It will work fine for what you need, and the time in the trainer won’t be long enough to add much wear to your road tire.

If it snowy outside, or you are a Swift fanatic, then a dedicated indoor training tire will be the best option.

They’ll make getting the power down easier with the extra grip they provide, and if your regular road tire has any type of tread, they will be quieter as well.

Not only that, the reliability of that grip means your training data is going to be more reliable without the slipping of an old road tire.

Remember the benefits of an indoor trainer is the convenience of being able to train regardless of the conditions outside.

If you have a spare wheel, then use your trainer tire on that instead.

It will save all the time needed to replace tires and tubes when all you want to do is jump in the trainer and ride.

Related Question

Do bike rollers wear out tires? While there will be some wear and tear on a bike roller, they are much friendlier on tires than smart and turbo trainers. You can still use a dedicated trainer tire on rollers, especially for the extra grip.

Do indoor trainers damage my bike? As long as you have them mounted according to the instructions, no they won’t. The main contact points for a wheel-on trainer are the tires, so switch out those and make sure you do not over-tighten the bike to the hub.

What are the other types of indoor bike trainers are there? There are three types of indoor bike trainers: Direct Drive, Wheel-on and Rollers. Direct Drive is more accurate, has faster response time, higher wattage, more resistance and better road feel. Wheel-on trainers can be prone to tyre slippage, lighter and easier to move around, and is also usually cheaper than the rest. Rollers are great for a rider who wants a simpler set up that is more portable.

Adam Johnson

As a middle-aged, 40 something cyclist, my riding goals have changed over the years. A lover of all things retro, and an avid flat bar cyclist, I continue to live in the glory days of past triathlon glories.

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